Econ­omy to reap re­wards fromdi­rect flights

The Press - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

Di­rect flights be­tween Guangzhou, Main­land China, and Christchurch could bring more than $100m in vis­i­tor spend to the coun­try’s econ­omy.

This is the view of Christchurch Air­port chief ex­ec­u­tive Mal­colm Johns who says the ser­vice of­fers more than 70,000 seats into the South Is­land.

The Christchurch to Guangzhou flight op­er­ates three times aweek – on Sun­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day – de­part­ing at 10.30pm and ar­riv­ing in Guangzhou at 5.30am. Re­turn flights de­part from Guangzhou just af­ter mid­night, ar­riv­ing in Christchurch at 5.10pm.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the ser­vice is good news not only for the tourism in­dus­try but also for south­ern air freight needs, which add up to sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery re­gion of the South Is­land, Johns says.

‘‘We know from of­fi­cial govern­ment sta­tis­tics that when the en­try point is Christchurch, ev­ery South Is­land re­gion ben­e­fits be­cause vis­i­tors on av­er­age leave around 85 per cent of their spend­ing in the South Is­land. This drops to less than 35 per cent when the en­try point is not Christchurch.

‘‘As an air­port, we were com­pet­ing for this air­craft against cities in­clud­ing Rome, Istanbul, Cairo and Chicago.

‘‘When it comes to foot­ing it on the world stage, against this type of com­pe­ti­tion, we needed the South Is­land to stand up and make an im­pact, which it did on both counts.

‘‘The South Is­land was strongly sup­ported by both cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment as it built its re­la­tion­ship with China South­ern Air­lines and many key travel trade part­ners in China over the past 18 months,’’ he says.

‘‘The strong sup­port from both cen­tral and lo­cal govern­ment was crit­i­cal in this process.

‘‘The Tourism Growth Part­ner­ship has been very sup­port­ive, as has Tourism New Zealand, and the New Zealand Con­sulate in Guangzhou was bril­liant in ev­ery way we could have asked for.’’

The air­port has led a se­ries of en­gage­ments in China over re­cent years to lift the pro­file of the South Is­land in China, strongly sup­ported by ma­jor South Is­land tourism oper­a­tors and by many re­gions.

The pres­i­dent and CEO of China South­ern Air­lines Com­pany Lim­ited, Tan Wan Geng, says the air­line is proud to of­fer an­other first for New Zealand. ‘‘We are the first Chi­nese car­rier to fly to New Zealand and now carry on that tra­di­tion by be­ing the first to fly to the South Is­land,’’ he says.

‘‘In­creas­ing num­bers of Chi­nese ar­rivals into Christchurch Air­port show the de­mand for the South Is­land, es­pe­cially from the grow­ing num­ber of in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers who want to see and ex­pe­ri­ence it.’’

Christchurch Air­port con­tin­ues to be the fastest grow­ing point of en­try for Chi­nese vis­i­tors. While na­tional fig­ures grew 39 per cent over the past sum­mer, Christchurch Air­port’s num­bers grew 69 per cent. Over­all, the air­port showed a 59 per cent in­crease in ar­rivals of Chi­nese na­tion­als in the months of De­cem­ber, Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary.

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